The 87th Legislature has a unique opportunity to build on recent efforts to reform the Texas child welfare system and make our system more compassionate and responsive. Much of this work will be focused on bringing the state into compliance with the requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act. This landmark piece of legislation is one of the most comprehensive overhauls of child welfare funding in more than 30 years.
One of the main goals of Family First is to reduce the number of children removed into foster care by providing services to preserve families at risk of separation before removal becomes necessary. This is a long-overdue change to the culture of child welfare practice, but services are just one piece of the puzzle. To truly create a more compassionate system that prioritizes family preservation, we must also reform the standards that DFPS and the courts rely upon when making life-altering decisions concerning removal of children and termination of parental rights.